Before we start, let’s make something clear. Someone asks on Quora, “Why do Americans call university, college?”
It is a little bit confusing if you’re not from the U.S. When Americans talk about college they are usually talking about institutes of higher learning that you attend after you graduate high school.
One university might have several colleges, such as Cornell University, which has seven. ‘College’ and ‘university’ are interchangeable.
We just thought we’d make that clear. If you say you are going to college in the UK or Australia or somewhere in Asia, it usually means a place of further education or somewhere you might study a vocational subject such as nursing, textile manufacturing, or automotive repair.
So, today we are talking more about differences after high school graduation rather than a comparison of two similar types of institutions.
Ok, so anyone who’s been through high school and finished university can tell you the first major difference is your freedom.
The shackles of youth and to some extent the fetters of pervasive rules are off! Some people leave the nest, the neighborhood, the city, the state, or the country, and for the first time in their life, they have almost complete freedom.
Is this always a good thing?
Well, some young folks deal with freedom well. Others spend their first year constantly running out of money and partying so much they barely learned a thing.
Some others, but these are few, become homesick. That year might be harder, or you might be more reckless if you choose not to live on campus.
The Good University Guide gives some tips on how to survive that first year: Use your time wisely, we are told, which means just because you only have 12 hours of classes a week it doesn’t mean you should stay up all night doing bong hits and playing Grand Theft Auto because mummy won’t be forcing you out of bed in the morning.
Most high schools around the world start from 7.30 – 8.30 and finish around 2-3.30 depending on the country. Freedom can be a curse and it can invite chaos into your life.
You have to respect freedom and see it as it is a double-edged sword. Even if you enjoy all that partying, too much of it will make it less enjoyable and it will negatively affect your body and your grades.
High school is all about being told what to do. College should be about knowing what to tell yourself to do.
You will also have to stick with a budget, which isn’t easy for someone who is used to relying on their parents to hand them cash every time they run out.
Books are gonna start costing you a lot of money when in high school almost everything was free.
The College Board reports on some costs for college students in 2017/18, and these costs are separate from tuition costs.
Housing will cost the average student $10,800. Books and other learning materials will be around $1,250, while other costs such as transportation, personal items, clothes, and entertainment will set the average student back $2,730.
But one good thing about college is that you can get discounts on all kinds of things, so check out student deals in your town. This will be the last time you get such deals until you become a senior citizen.
Take advantage of that student card, until it’s exchanged with a similar one but you’ve got wrinkles and grey hair. Look online and see what you can get.
Many clothing stores have discounts for students. You can get student discounts for furniture in the U.S. at stores such as Overstock, and you can sit on your new couch and read The Economist or New York Times at a reduced price as you took advantage of their student discounted subscription fees.
As for gadgets and software or Internet connections, most of the big tech companies have special prices for students. At the end of the day when you’ve had enough of studying, movie theaters and museums often have special student discounts, as do many restaurants.
And when you want to travel that long distance back home, the train or bus can cost a lot less if you can prove you’re a student.
What about that homesickness?
Well, one of the best things about going to college is making new friends. You’ve been used to the same faces in high school for so long you forgot how to meet new people.
You should make an effort. Start conversations, attend events, and go to parties (though not every night).
Another thing that is going to change is that you are going to either have to cook for yourself or take advantage of those cheap student deals at places such as the local pizza shop. Pizza slices may be cheap, but they are not always conducive to good health.
Weight gain is common in college, mostly because many students don’t cook and the only feast on cheap junk food that is everywhere near most colleges.
Check out all the student cookbooks online, or just cookbooks for people with little cash, such as “Tiny Budget Cooking by Limahl A small”.
Learn how to cook!
This is a very important piece of advice, and in the future, you’ll be happy (and your partner will be happy) that you made the effort.
You are now head of your own household. Your responsibilities don’t stop there. In high school, you just turn up to class and get the job done.
Well, you are an adult now, and you must arrange with your advisor what courses you will study and when.
Also, how to graduate can be a complex matter, and it is your responsibility to know exactly what you have to do.
As for the classes themselves, you can expect some classes to have as many as 100 students attending, compared to the average high school class size of 26.8 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
And when you’re not in a class, you’ll have
to get used to more studying on your own. This of course is up to the student, but one university we found says the average is 2 to 3 hours of private study for every hour of class study.
Most media point to one set of statistics regarding hours spent on homework in high school around the world, but those were compiled in 2014.
It was said American high schoolers do an average of 6.1 hours of homework per week. The least number of hours was Finland at 2.8 hours and then South Korea was second at 2.9 hours.
As these countries are very high in terms of student academic performance it’s no wonder the UK and American media have been publishing stories of late asking if homework is really worth the hassle.
By the way, the Russians did the most homework at 9.1 hours per week, but Russian school days are short.
You are also going to have to read voraciously for most disciplines, so get used to many hours with your head in books- ask any philosophy student who has tried to finish Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit.”
We are talking about some serious reading hours, and that takes self-discipline. And you won’t always be explicitly told what to read as you were in high school, you’ll have to know what to read sometimes from certain assigned material.
If you want to get ahead, read books relating to that material that is not necessarily in the course. And once you’ve done all the reading and completed an assignment, professors may not always check you’ve done it, as teachers do.
They might just assume you did it. And don’t go expecting professors to be keeping an eye on you.
Professors can help you if you approach them, but they won’t mollycoddle you as teachers sometimes do.
In general, you just have to be way more independent when it comes to studying. That includes drawing your own conclusions from work, which might even be radical.
In school much of the time there are answers, but in college, a great student will often have his or her own original answers.
This depends on the subject of course.
As for tests, in uni, you’ll have a few of them and there may not be makeup tests, which is very different from high school. There are other major differences, such as social matters.
In school, there is often a hierarchy, cools kids, and such, but in college, you are expected to have grown out of that.
You won’t have too much time anyway to be acting like the cool guy, the clown, the princess, or the geek.
And your relationship with your prof will be more man-to-man, woman-to-woman, etc, unlike that adult vs child thing you experienced in school.
Hey, you might even share a bottle of wine with your professor while discussing if ethically flawed artists or geniuses should still be admired.
One girl summed-up on Twitter how she thought teachers and profs were different, with this hypothetical dialogue:
“High school teachers: I’m MRS. HARDASS and you will take me SERIOUSLY!.”
“College profs: What up, I’m Josh, and class is canceled… cuz I’m tired.”
Yep, it can be laid back.
But if no one tells you not to spend all your time on your phone, you’ll need some self-restraint otherwise you’ll fall behind.
And that, in the end, is what it’s all about, self-restraint and hard work. Moderation and perseverance.
Becoming an adult, and sometimes, as Einstein famously said, forgetting what you learned in school and thinking for yourself.
Hey, one day soon someone might be studying YOU!
What do you think about this?
Can those of you that have been through school and university please add to this?
It could be a great help for any of our viewers who are about to go to college if you can give them some advice.
Let us know in the comments!.